William Lee

MS4414 Theoretical Mechanics


Stout beer


Monday 1700, Lecture, CO078, Weeks 1-9 and 11-14
Thursdays 0900, Tutorial, CO078, Weeks 1-9 and 11-14
Thursdays 1300, Lecture, S112, Weeks 2-9 and 11-14
???, Office Hours, A2016.
???, Advanced Class A2002.


  • 20% Midterm exam. (Week 7 tutorial slot.)
  • 80% End of term exam.

The end of term exam will have the same instructions as the 2010 paper, see below.

The midterm will be based on material covered in the following topics: Trajectories, Kinematics.

Sample Midterm from 2011 midterm.

Virtual office hour In advance of the midterm I will be holding a virtual office hour over facebook 8pm-9pm Wednesday evening on the MS4414 facebook page. Questions can also be emailed to me.


Kinematics: reference frames, motion in one dimension, motion with constant acceleration, kinematics in three dimensions, uniform circular motion, centripetal acceleration. Dynamics: mass, force, Newton's laws of motion, friction, Newton's law of gravity, planetary motion. Conservation laws: momentum, angular momentum, energy (kinetic energy, potential energy as gradient of force). Oscillatory motion: free and forced pendulum, resonance, parametric resonance. Introduction to the Hamiltonian and Lagrangian mechanics.


  • P. Smith, R. C. Smith (1996). Mechanics, Wiley.
  • F. Scheck (1999). From Newton's Laws to Deterministic Chaos, Springer.


Introduction. Trajectories. Kinematics. Kinematics Examples (volcano). Newton's laws. Circular Motion (astrolabes). Friction ( example 1, example 2, example 3, example 4). Conservation of energy. Gravity. Conservation of energy 2. Angular momentum. Lagrangian mechanics. Hamiltonian mechanics. Dynamical systems.

Lectures with blanks filled in

Trajectories. Kinematics. Newton's laws. Circular Motion. Conservation of energy. Gravity. Dynamical systems.


Trajectories, (solutions). Kinematics (solutions). Newton's Laws, (solutions). Circular Motion, Friction, (solutions). Gravitation and Energy (solutions). Angular Momentum, (solutions). Lagrangian and Hamiltonian Mechanics, (solutions). Dynamical systems, (solutions).

Past Papers

2005 paper, 2006 paper, 2007 paper, 2007 resit paper, 2008 paper, 2008 resit paper, 2009 paper, 2009 resit paper, 2010 paper.


The midterm and end of term exam papers will contain a summary of relevant formulae. It is slightly changed from the version in the past exam papers above. Summary.


Newton's Cradle. Tippe Top. Rattleback (Celt). Molecular Dynamics Radiation damage in zircon. Jearl Walker See bed of nails trick, 22 minutes in. Balancing a spoon on your nose wikihow. Formula one car howstuffworks.

Open access MS4414 group on Facebook.


Wolfram Mathworld.
Encyclopedic website on mathematics.

Maths Learning Centre.
Free support for students of courses with a mathematics component.

Mathematical Contest in Modelling. MCM. Flier. Competition Website.